Leo Varadkar on Friday was elected as the leader of Fine Gael, the largest party in Ireland's ruling coalition, positioning him to become the nation's first openly gay taoiseach, or prime minister.

“I want to thank everyone who engaged in this extraordinary, open democratic process,” Varadkar said in his acceptance speech. “For me, it's just the start of a more democratic and more engaged Fine Gael and we will be stronger for it.”

Varadkar, the son of an immigrant Indian father and Irish mother, will be Ireland's first openly gay and ethnic minority prime minister, and the youngest at 38. Parliament will vote later this month on a replacement for outgoing Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

LGBT rights activists cheered Varadkar's election.

“Today is a historic one for the LGBTQ community in Ireland,” said Belong to Youth Services, which serves LGBT youth, in a Facebook post. “We welcome Ireland's first gay presumptive taoiseach … here's to the next generation!”

Varadkar came out gay two years ago as Ireland debated a nationwide referendum on whether to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. Sixty-two percent of voters approved the measure.

Belgium and Iceland have had openly gay heads of state, while Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in 2015 became the first European Union leader to marry a person of the same sex while in office.